It has been centuries since the Portuguese last dominated the world's seaways, but in glancing over recent headlines one would be forgiven for thinking that their pirates are still running around. With the economy still reeling from the effects of the devastating financial crisis in 2010-11, Portugal has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals which go to the very core of the political and financial establishments. Portugal's economic divergence relative to Europe’s core is striking; it has even been overtaken by an average of the newcomers that joined the European Union in 2004, many of which are former communist countries. This in spite of Portugal receiving billions in structural reform funds from Brussels for almost three decades now – a process which is still ongoing. So how did this significant underperformance come about?
“There’s two things that I find incredible about this. First, that anyone would advertise in a resume that they know about a flaw in the system — signaling that they’re ready and willing to exploit that flaw. And, second, that somebody would hire the person sending that signal.”
B-Dud Explains The Fed’s Economic Coup (Or Why Every Asset Price Influencing Monetary Policy Transmission Is Now Manipulated)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/03/2014 19:30 -0500
The Fed can do only do two concrete things to influence these income and credit sources of spending - both of which are unsustainable, dangerous and an assault on free market capitalism’s capacity to generate growth and wealth. It can induce households to consume a higher fraction of current income by radically suppressing interest rates on liquid savings. And it can inject reserves into the financial system to induce higher levels of credit creation. But the passage of time soon catches up with both of these parlor tricks.
"The stock market just keeps zooming up. A low equity allocation must be hurting you now... For all purposes, this is a hideously expensive market. I don’t care if it’s a bubble or not. It’s too expensive, and I don’t need to own it. That is the problem. This is the first central bank sponsored near-bubble. There is just nowhere to hide... but... to think that central banks will always be there to bail out equity investors is incredibly dangerous."
What we experience today is completely contrary to the German (maybe not the U.S.) understanding of the role of the Central Bank. The ECB has now assumed a role not only to protect the value of our common currency against inflation but also to take action as if it is responsible to create economic growth and full employment with instruments like money printing, zero interest rates and unlimited investments in bonds which the free market is rejecting... Is it really worth it to increase the already heavy burden of public debt, which our children must service someday, by accepting even more debt in a vain effort to increase public demand? Let’s instead be happy with zero GDP growth, zero inflation and zero growth of public debt! That could be a more rational solution.
If all it took to push stocks to ever recorder(est) highs, granted on no volume, but recorder(est) highs nonetheless, was for correlation algos to pick a carry FX pair trade du jour which to push the Nikkei, or the Dax, or - most frequently - the S&P higher, then all equity indices would already been in scientific digit territory. And since they aren't, it is only logical that prosperity through currency debasement can only "work" for so long.
But how long? Well, when it comes to the primary carry pair du jour, the Dollar-Yen, the answer may be just a few hundred pips more, before it all comes unglued for Japan's Prime Minister whose first stint in the role ended in a prophetic bout of epic diarrhea, Shinzo Abe.
Those seeking proof that Abenomics is working are advised to look elsewhere.
"As was true at the 2000 and 2007 extremes, Wall Street is quite measurably out of its mind. There’s clear evidence that valuations have little short-term impact provided that risk-aversion is in retreat (which can be read out of market internals and credit spreads, which are now going the wrong way). There’s no evidence, however, that the historical relationship between valuations and longer-term returns has weakened at all. Yet somehow the awful completion of this cycle will be just as surprising as it was the last two times around – not to mention every other time in history that reliable valuation measures were similarly extreme. Honestly, you’ve all gone mad."
Switzerland’s ‘Save our Swiss Gold’ referendum was convincingly rejected yesterday by the Swiss electorate following an aggressive anti-gold campaign in recent weeks that had been closely watched both in Switzerland and abroad.
Unusually, it involved the Swiss National Bank (SNB) very actively, and ultimately successfully, trying to convince the electorate along with the main political parties to return a ‘no’ vote.
Whether as a result of an unprecedented scare campaign by the Swiss National Bank (most recently reinforced by Citigroup), or due to confidence that Swiss gold is as safe abroad as it is at home, or simply due to good old-fashioned "hanging chads", today's most awaited event has come and gone and the result - according to early projections by Swiss television SRF - is that the Swiss population overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to force the Swiss National Bank to hold some 20% of its reserves in gold in a landslide vote, with about 78% voting against what AP politely termed "protecting the country's wealth by investing in gold."
Holiday Spending Season Begins With Decline At Brick-And-Mortar Outlets Offset By Jump In Online PurchasesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/30/2014 11:24 -0500
There was much hope for America's struggling brick-and-mortar retail outlets that aided by plunging gasoline prices, Americans would come out in droves to chase Black Friday (and increasingly Thanksgiving) blockbuster deals on the ground across America's increasingly troubled shopping malls and retail outlets. And while there was the usual hysteria on select occasions (see this post for video evidence), for yet another year American shoppers spent slightly less money during Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday than across the same two days in 2013, according to research firm ShopperTrak. Sales at brick-and-mortar retail stores came to about $12.29 billion on Thursday and Friday, a 0.5% decrease to the $12.35 billion spent during the same two days last year.
A little over a year ago, we presented a "Yellow" asset, which was "the best performer of the past year." It wasn't gold: it was yellow cab medallions. As we wrote then, "the best returning asset class traded in the NY Metro area is yellow but doesn't change hands on Wall Street.... over the last 12 months New York City taxi medallions have risen 49% in price, besting the relatively humdrum returns of the S&P 500 (up 21%), the NASDAQ (22%) and the Dow (18%). Medallions – essentially the right to operate a for-hail taxi in New York City – now trade for as much as $1.3 million, an all-time record." In retrospect it was also the perfect time to cash out on the "yellow" euphoria. According to the NYT, "the average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. Previous figures published by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — showing flat prices — appear to have been incorrect, and the commission removed them from its website after an inquiry from The New York Times."
Whether aristocratic or democratic, the administration of the State matters little. Power, theft, war, and plunder is what really matters. That is the dirtiest of all secrets.
The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered.
Western dominance was born from a distrust in the dominant reserve currency at the time. Its decline will be because they followed the same route. And the canary in the coal mine is what’s happening in Switzerland this weekend.